Walking the John Buchan Country

I have written before  of the joys of walking in the Scottish Border countryside that inspired the writings of John Buchan (1875-1940).

 

A John Buchan Way runs for thirteen miles from Peebles to Broughton, through some very lonely countryside, through places that would have been very familiar to the author (you can download a walks guide online). Buchan was a very considerable walker. Travelling through the countryside inspired some of his best work.

If you want to get his take on this area look for the volume called “Shorter Scottish Fiction“.  Unlike his novels, such as The Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle, these stories deal with the folk of the Borders and a way of life that has mostly gone.

A while ago, we walked the first half of the John Buchan Way from Peebles to Stobo. We had imagined it was going to be a Spring walk. In fact it was through often deep snow.

We set off up Cademuir Hill, subject of Buchan’s first ever published story “On Cademuir Hill”.

By the time we got to the where the Way passes near to the summit, we were in quite thick snow. Cademuir is quite fascinating, with the stone ramparts of the prehistoric hill forts lining the summit. On the hillside, we saw partridge and both black and red grouse, hares boxing in the distance.

Down then into the valley of the Manorwater, a lovely little tributary of the Tweed. Up past the little cottage called The Glack – thought to be the base of a defensive tower – then up we went through very thick snow over the ridge to Stobo.John Buchan Way 1 002

 

The best kind of snow too that lovely soft thick crusty stuff that is fun to fall in.

From Stobo, we followed the lanes back to Lyne Station. What a tragedy that the railway is no longer there. Then along the drive of Barns House. The house and tower here inspired Buchan’s second novel John Burnet of Barns (written when he was just nineteen!) You could spend a whole holiday just following in the tracks of its hero.

Beyond Manor Sware, we had grand views back towards Dollar Law and then over the town of Peebles.

An unexpected snowy walk in what was supposed to be Spring. An area  well worth visiting.

On Dufton Pike

If you drive eastwards along the A66 from Penrith, you see to your left three dramatic hills standing apart from the long ridge of the Pennines – they are in order Knock Pike, Dufton Pike and Murton Pike.

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Dufton Pike (c) John Bainbridge 2017

 

Some while ago we went up Murton Pike, so we thought it was about time that we did the next in the line. We’ve walked a couple from Dufton itself and once did a circuit of its Pike, but had never been up the thing.

So the other day, in a brief few hours between rain clouds, when the sun shone on the Eden valley we set out from Dufton. A pretty village.

In fact the poet W.H.Auden thought it one of the prettiest in England. It owes much of its past prosperity to the company that worked the surrounding hills for lead. The name means The Village of the Doves – a peaceful kind of place.

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Dufton (c) John Bainbridge 2017

 

Interestingly, all this part of Westmorland, including the nearby and very small town of Appleby, was once part of Scotland – that’s why the habitations of the Eden Valley don’t feature in the Domesday Book.

I suspect, if you look at old guide books, access was discouraged to the summit of Dufton Pike. These old guides often do a circuit on the surrounding rights of way, but don’t take in the top. But now most of the hill is mapped as CRoW land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act so you can.

We set out from Dufton, taking the Pennine Way up to Coatsike Farm and up Hurning Lane, with grand views of the Pike as we climbed gently. After a couple of days of heavy rain, the track was full of pools of water and glutinous mud. The going was, to say the least, sticky.

I never mind mud. I spent my formative years bog-trotting on Dartmoor, where if you didn’t get plastered you hadn’t walked very far.

But this was, as I said, sticky.

We passed Halsteads – a ruinous sort of place – probably deserted because there’s no road leading to it – only this old track. The kind of ruin I used to doss down in during my tramping days of a while ago. Quite intact, Halsteads really – but then I’ve found from long experience, that the better preserved a ruin, the colder it is. Pity that it’s in the state it’s in, though. If it belonged to me I’d convert it into a walker’s bothy.

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A Ruined Sort of Place (c) John Bainbridge 2017

 

The track got drier as we came out on to open ground on Cosca Hill, before making a steep descent to the Great Rundale Beck. We left the Pennine Way here and took a footpath following the line of the beck.

You can’t go straight up to the top of the Pike from here, despite the CRoW hatching on the 125:000 map. We tried. But there’s a double wall and enclosed ground that the Ordnance Survey doesn’t even mark on its map. It says on the map it’s CRoW, but the landowner and the local council – who no doubt provided the Keep Out signs suggests otherwise.

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Threlkeld Side (c) John Bainbridge 2017

 

If you want to get to the top of the Pike, you need to stay on the footpath, passing through a gate and then over a stile. Just past a row of new tree planting a path climbs up to the top.

I’d imagined a steep climb up the rough sides, but in fact the path zigzags, first almost back on itself to one of the aforementioned walls that the OS haven’t mapped, then on a long gradual climb to the top.

Easy going with splendid views across the Eden to the mountains of the Lake District in one direction and the long ridge of the Pennines to the other – still some snow lying on Cross Fell, the highest point on the Pennines. Looking across into the valley of Threlkeld Side, you can see the activities of the Pennine lead-miners.

It was certainly breezy on the top, but the winds scattered the clouds and kept the rain at bay, giving wild vista across to Wild Boar Fell and the distant peaks of Blencathra and Helvellyn.

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Knock Pike and Crossfell from Dufton Pike. (c) John Bainbridge 2017

 

The descent from Dufton Pike on its eastern side was a trifle steeper than the way we’d come up. The descending path end up at a gate leading on to a track back to Dufton, above the Pus Gil Beck.

Yet another muddy track, with standing pools of water – a bit like Hurning Lane earlier in the day.

Still a good dry walk with impressive views. A couple of hours later the clouds closed in and the rain bucketed down.

But by then we had our feet up indoors and the kettle had boiled.

 

A Walk Into Prehistory

In my last blog I related how we walked over Askham Fell in the Lake District, to follow the Roman road known as High Street. But there’s far more in the way of antiquities on Askham Fell and Moor Divock than evidence of the Roman occupation.

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Retaining Circle (c) John Bainbridge 2017

This northeastern corner of the Lake District has some of the most impressive Bronze Age remains as well. There are stone circles, cists, avenues, and what looks like a portion of a stone row as well.

Walking these moors reminded me of the impressive Dartmoor prehistoric sanctuaries I used to explore so often.

We went out the other Friday, the day after Storm Doris clobbered much of Britain. It actually seemed to miss our bit of Cumbria, though it deposited some fresh snow on the higher Lakeland fells. But Friday last was a calm and peaceful day up on these fells, though bitterly cold. Clear blue skies over distant snow-capped mountains. The skylarks sang in great profusion all around us and there was new frogspawn on the ground.

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The Cop Stone (c) John Bainbridge 2017

A perfect day for a walk into prehistory.

We started out once again from Askham and followed the lanes down to the picturesque hamlet of Helton. A lane from here leads up to the fells of Moor Divock. It doesn’t lead anywhere but to a few farms, though it’s obviously used by dogwalkers and fell walkers who park their cars there.

 

A track leads out to the Cop stone. This is a glacial erratic stone, but certainly incorporated into a man-made bank, very probably a ring cairn. You can make out the earthen bank quite clearly, though most of the stones that were apparently recorded there by Victorian antiquarians are gone.

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Looking towards Heughscar Hill. Note the stones in the middle distance. (c) John Bainbridge 2017

Just beyond, and slightly off the track, are more isolated stones and then what looks like a retaining circle of stones for a vanished cairn.

Stand at this point and look in both directions and, with the Cop Stone on the skyline, the remaining antiquities for a straight line between the Cop Stone and a niche on Heughscar Hill to the north.

It’s interesting that, although it was a bitterly freezing day, the stones on this moor were quite warm to the touch.

As we made our way across the fell, there were some splendid vistas of the higher northern mountains of the Lake District, capped with snow and eventually Ullswater came within sight.

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On Askham Fell (c) John Bainbridge 2017

The most impressive monument on these local fells is known as The Cockpit, a large and dramatic stone circle. The Roman road, High Street, runs very close, so this was one antiquity that must have been very familiar to the marching Roman soldiers.

As far as I can tell, The Cockpit is unrestored, unlike so many of the very impressive stone circles of Dartmoor put back together in Victorian times by the likes of Robert Burnard, Sabine Baring Gould et al.

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Stone Row (c) John Bainbridge 2017

Whether any circles should have been restored is debateable. Even the Stonehenge you see today is hardly the same monument visited by writers like George Borrow and painted by Turner.

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The Cockpit (c) John Bainbridge 2017

Anyway, the antiquities of these Lakeland fells have witnessed little of the hand of man beyond rudimentary excavation and looting for stone. It’s interesting to speculate as to what antiquities have been lost entirely and what the place looked like a few thousand years ago.

We wandered back across this lovely stretch of moorland to Askham. As you look across this great stretch of moorland to the higher fells of Arthur’s Pike and Loadpot Hill it becomes very apparent that this was a site of great importance to the people who lived hereabouts.

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Looking towards Arthur’s Pike (c) John Bainbridge 2017

People who held the view that the land was sacred and, for some purpose we don’t fully understand, wanted to make their mark upon it.

Walking a Lake District Roman Road

On previous blogs I’ve written about some of our walks on High Street, the Roman road from Brougham to Ambleside which crosses some of the highest ground in the Lake District.

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Walking the course of High Street (c) John Bainbridge 2017

I first encountered the road itself over twenty years ago, walking the ridge route known as the Kentmere Horseshoe, when I walked over the top of the mountain called High Street after the road.

High Street is, I believe, the highest Roman road in Britain. It has always fascinated me. The first time I ever heard it mentioned was as a child, in Arthur Ransome’s wonderful novel Swallowdale. The name sparked something in my imagination, and it has been interesting to explore the actual High Street over the past couple of decades.

It’s at its best and most dramatic between High Street itself , to the point where it descends towards Troutbeck.

Further north, the section climbing south from Askham Fell is very wet and boggy, and the track is often difficult to make out.

In the area west of Heughscar Hill, more modern tracks cross the landscape, making it difficult to actually define the route of the Roman road, though it is sometimes incorporated in them.

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The new signpost (c) John Bainbridge 2017

Many of us are familiar with Roman roads such as the Fosse Way, great clear lines across the English landscape. High Street is nothing like this. Although it crosses the Lakeland fells in a very clear direction, it is by no means straight and, I think, might never have been maintained in the efficient Roman tradition.

I believe it’s almost certain that the present course of High Street suggests a track that goes further back in time than the Roman occupation. For me, this is a typical long prehistoric track across the Lake District, adapted and possibly altered by Roman road engineers.

Just over a week ago, we set out to walk the line of the Roman Road between the prehistoric stone circle known as The Cockpit to the vicinity of Winder Hall.

A fine day too, as we set out from Askham walking across Askham Fell to The Cockpit stone circle – an antiquity older than the Roman road itself. Cloud inversions filled some of the distant mountain valleys, but the tops were very clear on a beautiful day of blue skies. Ullswater looked magnificent in this clear light.

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On High Street (c) John Bainbridge 2017

It was pleasing to see that, since our last visit to these moorlands, someone had put up a signpost in Latin, marking out the distances in true Roman fashion. You can march in step with the Roman soldiers, left right, left right – or should that be sinister dexter, sinister dexter…

Many of the Romans stationed in the Lake District came from the Roman Empire, rather than Rome itself – places like modern day Yugoslavia. They must have been a hardy breed as they tramped from fort to fort.

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Winder Hall (c) John Bainbridge 2017

Around Winder Hall, the Roman road becomes just a path and then a “course of Roman road” line across enclosed fields. We left further explorations to another day and followed the lane back to Askham.

It must have been quite a sight – those Romans marching along such a high-level route across the countryside.

In my next blog I’ll look at some of the other archaeology of Askham Fell and Moor Divock – much of it a lot older than the Roman road.

 

 

Following the Kinlochleven Navvies

Deep in the Scottish Highlands in the upper valley of the River Leven is truly wild country, caught between the great rift of Glencoe and the mountains of Lochaber.  But this is also an industrial landscape. The village of Kinlochleven came  about as a centre for the manufacture of aluminium, powered by the stored waters of the Leven held behind the long wall of the Blackwater Dam.

The inspiration for my hill walk out to the great dam occurred several years before, some miles beyond Fort William at Glenfinnan. On a very wet day I had called in at the National Trust for Scotland’s visitor centre in search of something to read. The lady assistant recommended the recently republished novels of navvy life, Children of the Dead End and its sequel Moleskin Joe, by the much neglected author Patrick MacGill.

As the rain poured down that evening I sat by the fireside in the tiny cottage in Benderloch and avidly read these tales of navvying in early twentieth century Scotland. Although presented as novels the books are largely autobiographical, telling how the young MacGill worked on farmsteads and industrial sites around Ireland and Scotland before journeying on foot the hundred miles between Greenock and the dam construction works on the Leven.

That trek itself was quite arduous with the two navvies having to steal a boat to cross the Clyde, before they could even begin their long walk through the Highlands. They roamed on through inhospitable countryside, having to steal or scrounge for food, MacGill literally barefooted as they took the last steps of their journey over the rugged terrain to where the workers lived in a shanty town high in the hills.

It was here that MacGill was to live and work for months on end; on the great dam itself and the route of the pipelines down to Kinlochleven. The Blackwater navvies blew up and carved out great chunks of mountainside in one of the most exposed areas of the Highlands by night and day, in midge-ridden hot weather and during weeks of blizzards and lashing rain.

Men were crammed dozens to a hut, often drunk or fighting over the consequences of a gambling match. Then with the completion of the dam they were paid off and marched away to the next job leaving the remnants of where they had lived behind.

Well, not all of them marched away. Accidents during their labours were common and a number of the navvies died, to be buried below the dam in Britain’s loneliest and most atmospheric graveyard.

The aluminium works at Kinlochleven are closed now, though the workers’ houses remain in the deep vale between those high mountains. The waters of the great Blackwater Dam provides power for hydro-electricity. Some of the buildings of the old works have been given over to leisure interests, outdoor centres with climbing walls. But it feels as if the ghosts of those navvies remain in the long valley down from the dam.

Clouds thundered up the glen as I set out from Kinlochleven, though it remained dry and intermittently sunny for my first mile. The initial stage of my route was part of the West Highland Way, that very popular long distance walk from Glasgow to Fort William.

I tramped the winding and steep track through thick birchwoods up the side of the glen, at first beside the huge pipeline from the dam that curved down the hillside. Reaching higher ground the clouds delivered short but heavy and cold showers, though the sun in between the downpours warmed me and made it unnecessary to wear my much hated waterproof clothing.

The clouds were high above the mountain summits and there were fine views across to the Mamores, that great range of mountains that huddle up to the highest of all British summits – Ben Nevis.

The dam proved to be further away than I had imagined. I lost height into a deep valley, which had to be regained on its eastern side. It was close to a lonely cottage on the valley’s topmost edge that I found the conduit again, now covered by an earthen flat track above the pipes, making progress easier as it contoured the walls of the glen.

You cannot help but be amazed at this astonishing feat of engineering, on a par with the construction of the dam itself. The Blackwater navvies worked the pipeline’s route out of solid rock, much of it precipitous cliff. Where waterfalls tumbled down the slopes of the glen narrow bridges carried the pipeline high over their rushing waters. The slippery track took me sometimes deep into the hillside, then as suddenly out above incredible drops.

Far below the white waters of  Leven crashed down the glen, supplemented by what seemed to be hundreds of waterfalls from the surrounding hills.

It took three hours of walking before the dam came into view. I think I had expected something narrower and taller, rather than the long grey line of wall that traversed the head of the glen.

Some of the navvies never left their workplace. They lie in a tiny but atmospheric burial ground below the dam, a great mound of earth that they themselves probably shifted into place. Simple headstones in ragged lines mark the last resting place of a couple of dozen of Patrick MacGill’s contemporaries.

I walked between them reading the names which were mostly Scottish and Irish.  Some bore nicknames such as “Darkie Cunningham”, others had no name at all, perhaps bits of body unrecognisable in death after a rock fall or an accident with explosives.

MacGill relates how some workers perished in blizzards as they made a desperate journey across the mountains in search of liquor at the Kingshouse inn on the skirts of Rannoch Moor, their bones lying in the heather to this day.

We talk now of hard work and a tough existence, but what do we know of either compared to the existence of the navvies who laboured day and night on freezing mountainsides, lashed with rain and snow and attacked by swarms of midges on warmer summer days?  They lived hard, worked to extremes, fought the landscape and each other, and occasionally died in this out of the way place

As I stood there the great belt of cloud that had hung for so long over Loch Leven began to head inland towards me, bringing the promise of rain.  A track took me to the conduit and I headed for home. The showers became more frequent as the band of cloud rolled overhead, turning into a fierce downpour as I breasted the last valley before Kinlochleven.

In the birchwoods I passed three hikers huddled away from the rain in a stretch of furze, looking thoroughly dispirited. I waved a hand but they just looked miserable in return. As I walked into Kinlochleven some lads approached and asked if I had encountered three of their friends overdue whilst walking the stretch of the West Highland Way from Rannoch Moor. I pointed them in the right direction and then sat in the pouring rain on the banks of the Leven thinking about Patrick MacGill’s description of the harsh life of the navvies of Kinlochleven, whose hard existence makes the worst tribulation of hillwalkers seem very easy.

A longer version of this walk appears in my book Wayfarer’s Dole – Rambles in the British Countryside now out in paperback and on Kindle. Just click the link below to read more for free or to order.

A Walk into the Past from Ravenstonedale

We snatched a glorious day again last week for a walk that took us through several interesting periods of history, from prehistoric times to Victorian industrial archaeology – walking a landscape of old drovers’ tracks, disused railways, pillow mounds and a place where a whole village was evicted to keep a landowner happy.

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A Pleasant Pheasant (c)  John Bainbridge 2017

Ravenstonedale (pronounce it something like Rassendal) is a village on the northern edge of the Howgill Fells, situated just off the main road between Kirkby Stephen and Tebay in Cumbria.

There had been heavy rain the previous days and well into the night, but the clouds had scattered by the time we set out. It left a fair amount of glutinous mud, so if you’re thinking of following in our footsteps you might want to try when there’s been a bit of a dry spell.

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The  Dry Water Course (c) John Bainbridge 2017

Ravenstonedale has a most interesting church, though sadly it was locked when we were there. But there is the base of a Saxon cross in the churchyard and the ruins of a Gilbertine Priory. The Gilbertines were the only English-founded religious order in medieval times.

Gilbert, who started the order, was born in Sempringham in Lincolnshire. The late and much-missed outdoor writer Showell Styles suggested that Gilbert – who wandered afoot on pilgrimages to Rome – should be the patron saint of ramblers.

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The Gilbertian Priory (c) John Bainbridge 2017

Anyway these ramblers set out via Town Head and Greenside on our way to the neighbouring village of Newbiggin on Lune. Just beyond Town Head Farm, the footpath dips down to an old bridge over a rocky bourne, empty of water as it apparently often is, like the rocky bed of a lost river. Presumably in this Limestone landscape the water generally goes underground, only filling this dry river bed in the wettest of conditions.

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The Old Railway Line (c) John Bainbridge 2017

On then past Greenside taking a stretch of lane and then paths to High Greenside and Beckstones. A wonderfully unspoiled landscape, with grand views up towards Green Bell and the northern Howgills. Ideal for moorland bird watching.

A path by the Dry Beck brought us to Newbiggin on Lune. Its Victorian chapel is now a private house. We sauntered down the village street to the busy main road, then took a footpath leading to Brownber.

But halfway there we turned right on to the disused track of the old railway line, a marvellous piece of Victorian engineering which used to take travellers from Tebay to Kirkby Stephen. Another of those useful lines stupidly removed in 1962.

Good for walking though as it winds through increasingly wild countryside, climbing gently upwards towards a hillside with the odd name of Severals, taking in along the way the old embankments and cuttings cut across this landscape by the railway navvies.

Just after we left a fine walled cutting, we went through a kissing gate to our right and mounted a round hill known as Sandy Bank. On the far side, running alongside a stone wall is a track once used by drovers. Hundreds of years old, at a guess. Perhaps even more ancient.

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Smardale Bridge (c) John Bainbridge 2017

As you look around this old land, you are probably seeing what earlier travellers saw over centuries. Unspoiled and wild, the railway probably the most recent intrusion – and nature is slowly reclaiming even that.

We followed the old track down to Smardale Bridge, an ancient crossing of the Scandal Beck. The present bridge is at least two hundred years old, but you get the feeling that this crossing place is even older, only the waters of the beck and the cry of the moorland birds breaking the stillness.

Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Path comes here. On a documentary made late in his life, that grand old man Alfred Wainwright might be seen sitting on the wall of the bridge. He’s gone from us now – one more historical memory in the long history of this landscape.

Nearby are the Giants’ Graves. Pillow mounds in fact. Normally, I’d associate these vast earthen banks with rabbit warrening, though local tradition has it that these were used to dry bracken – a puzzlement to me. I can remember during my early Dartmoor days, farmers cutting bracken for bedding – but they used to just take it back to their barns to dry out. If any reader knows how you use pillow mounds to dry bracken, please do let me know.

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The Strip Lynchets (c) John Bainbridge 2017

We retraced our footsteps a few yards and took a footpath to Todwray. On the hillside above the first part of the path are some fine examples of strip lynchets, evidence of medieval farming, for there was once a farming village not far away.

The village and the villagers were thrown of the land by Thomas Wharton in 1560. Wharton wanted to extend his deer park. The villagers and their village were dispensable. Sounds like the kind of character who’d get an arrow in his back in one of my historical novels!

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Wharton’s Boundary (c) John Bainbridge 2017

He built an embankment to mark the boundary of his deer park, traces of which are still there. A good job we have a record of Wharton’s activities or archaeologists might still be puzzling over the origins of this grassy bank.

After a steep descent we came back down to the Scandal Beck, which we followed back into Ravenstonedale, going back under the busy main road beneath a fairly modern bridge – an ugly construction, though who knows? In centuries to come antiquarians might pore over its concrete and praise its 20th century construction techniques?

A lovely walk of six or seven miles where, for a few hours, you can time-travel through many periods of English history.

A Walk Into History-King’s Meaburn to Bolton

Last Monday was a beautiful frosty English morning of clear blue skies and distant views, so we decided to walk a circuit of footpaths between King’s Meaburn and Bolton in the broad valley between the rivers Eden and Lyvennet. On the way, as so often on a British walk, we walked into history. History of several periods, for such is the palimpsest that is the British landscape.

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The Old Track to Bolton (c) John Bainbridge 2017

We started from King’s Meaburn, once the manor of the de Morville family. Hugh de Morville was an accessory in the murder of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, where he held back the crowd at swordpoint while the other four knights present murdered the archbishop.

King’s Meaburn has no parish church of its own. If it did it would qualify as a Thankful Village – so named by the topographical author Arthur Mee, marking the fact that all the men who left the place to fight in the Great War came safely home. So instead of a war memorial the villagers constructed a village hall, which still bears the dates of that conflict.

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The Memorial Hall at King’s Meaburn (c) John Bainbridge 2017

The path to Bolton, first a broad track and then a series of field paths, was frozen hard as we started out. If you are following in our footsteps, we took the bridleway past the old village school to the Luz Beck. Not the best waymarked route, though the stiles indicate the general direction. As we crested the hill we looked over Bolton and the Eden Valley to the Pennines, the tops still white with frost and snow.

Bolton itself is a fascinating village with a long history, still a place where people live and contribute to the community. Here too is a memorial hall to the Great War, though Bolton was not as fortunate as its neighbour. This small village lost eight men in the 1914-18 War. The veterans of Word War Two are commemorated in a splendid playing field.

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Knights Jousting at Bolton (c) John Bainbridge 2017

The joy of Bolton is the parish church, one of the best in Cumbria. The present building dates to the 12th century, though it’s likely that there was a Saxon chapel on the site. Much of the village itself dates back to at least the 9th century.

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Bolton Parish Church (c) John Bainbridge 2017

Just by the door is a stone figure of a women, her hands crossed in prayer, possibly part of an ancient tombstone. Inside the church the Poor Box – still in use to collect contributions for the maintenance of the fabric – dates back to 1634. The parishioners still collect food parcels for the poor of Britain. A sad indictment on what is supposed to be the sixth richest economy in the world.

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Bolton Poor Box (c) John Bainbridge 2017

At the rear of the church is a stone tablet of indeterminate age showing two knights jousting. There’s a now indecipherable inscription bearing the words ‘St Lawrence de Vere gives to the men of Bolton…’ And then no more, which is really frustrating. Fascinating glimpse into the past though…

A very good bridleway, though not well waymarked at its awkward points leads back towards King’s Meaburn, passing through the farm of Keld, a Norse word meaning spring – and sure enough a well is marked on the map. By this time the ice and frost had melted leaving behind some glutinous mud.

We crossed the lane here and walked to Jackdaw’s Scar, by which runs the waters of the Lyvennet river. Sure enough those birds do occupy this dramatic little gorge, its cliffs set above the river and thick woodlands.

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Lady in prayer at Bolton (c) John Bainbridge 2017

In one walk of perhaps half a dozen miles, we encountered several periods of history. Not unusual for walkers who tread their steps in this ancient land.